Kris Steele – TEEM – Criminal Justice Reform

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11:55am LiveStream


Kris Steele is a  former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Feeling called to pursue a career in ministry, in 1997, he earned a bachelor’s degree in religion from the Okla. Baptist University

He uses his ministry training and experience along with the knowledge he gained as a legislator to serve as the executive director of The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking cycles of incarceration and poverty through education, personal development and job readiness training. TEEM helps former prisoners discover their talents and matches their skills and abilities with employment opportunities that benefit the employee, employer and entire community.

Steele became motivated to serve in this capacity after reading a state audit which revealed Oklahoma’s incarceration rates were the highest in the nation. According to the audit, Oklahoma has more crimes punishable by incarceration than other states.

Steele also took a careful look at successful re-entry programs for former prisoners in other states and their efforts to increase public safety. He researched crime rates, for both violent and non-violent offenders, male and female incarceration rates and the likelihood for released inmates to return to prison. This revelation placed a burden on him and instilled a passionate desire to help turn around this pressing issue within Oklahoma. In November 2012, as his time in the legislature came to an end, he began serving as the executive director at TEEM and was charged with addressing the issue.

TEEM has developed a re-entry service model that helps people break the incarceration cycle. Elements of the program include basic education, job training and mentoring. TEEM case managers also connect participants with housing, substance abuse treatment, transportation and health care. A legal aid attorney helps them through legal issues to identify and remove as many barriers as possible before they transition into the community, and job placement coordinators teach basic computer skills and interviewing techniques.


Chair of the Day

 Drew Edmondson was born on October 12, 1946, in Washington, D.C., while his father was attending law school. Drew was educated in the public schools of Muskogee, Oklahoma and Washington, D.C. Upon graduation from high school in Muskogee, he attended Northeastern State College (now University) in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, on a debate scholarship.

After graduation, Drew enlisted in the United States Navy and reached the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class (E-5), with duty in Vietnam. He taught speech and debate at Muskogee High School prior to running for the State Legislature in 1974. He served District 13 for two years.

Drew’s law degree is from the University of Tulsa School of Law, from which he graduated in 1978. He interned in the Muskogee District Attorney’s office during law school and returned to that office as Chief Prosecutor in May, 1982. That same year he was elected D.A., without opposition, and was re-elected, again without opposition, in 1986 and 1990.

In 1994, Drew made his first state-wide race for Attorney General, taking office in January 1995. He was re-elected in 1998 without opposition, and received over 60% of the vote in the elections of 2002 and 2006. In 2018 he was the Democratic Party nominee for Governor.

As D.A., Drew was selected as the outstanding D.A for the State of Oklahoma and as the President of the District Attorneys’ Association. He was also named the outstanding death penalty prosecutor in the 9th and 10th federal court circuits. As A.G., Drew Chaired the Southern Region of the A.G.’s Association, Chaired the Consumer Protection Committee, Chaired the Tobacco Enforcement Committee, and was the recipient of the prestigious Kelly-Wyman Award as the outstanding attorney general in the country. Drew served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General from 2002-2003.

In 1967, Drew married the former Linda Larason of Fargo, Oklahoma, and they are the parents of Mary, and attorney married to Mike Ross and living in Arlington, Va., with grandchildren Catherine and Andrew, and Robert, who holds a PhD in cultural anthropology and is married to Andrea Hamor Edmondson with the Department of Mental Health. They have two children, Kash and Kade. Drew and Linda celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in June, 2022.

Drew grew up in Muskogee’s First Presbyterian Church, serving as a Deacon, Trustee and an ordained Elder. Currently, Drew and Linda are members of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City. He is a member of Rotary, Club 29. He served two terms as a Trustee of Bacone College in Muskogee and is currently on the Executive Board of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He is on the Advisory Board of Rainbow Fleet, a private non-profit servicing day care facilities and also on the Board of Palomar, Family Justice Center. He is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma, Class IV, and is a member of the Oklahoma Academy.

In 2016, as Chair of the Oklahoma Stewardship Council, Drew led the fight against State Question 777 which would have effectively removed agriculture and animal agriculture from any state regulation. Oklahoma was the first state to defeat the so-called Right to Farm. He also serves as National Co-Chair of the Law Enforcement Council of Animal Wellness Action.

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